(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

xv                             BRUSH-TAILED   PORCUPINE                          $OI
least promulgating, this legend, which has even grown so in the
telling that the quills are said to be capable of penetrating planks
of wood. What Buffon said apropos of this matter is, " The
marvellous commonly is pleasingly believed, and increases in
proportion to the number of hands it passes through." It is of
course the rattling of the spines and the occasional falling out of
loose ones which has started the legend. They are, however,
excellent weapons of offence, and the animal charges somewhat
backwards to make the best use of them against the foe. The
spines, however, are by no means an absolute protection, since, as
Mr. Ridley informs us,1 Tigers will kill and eat these animals just
as the Thylacine is apparently indifferent to the spiny armature
of JZchidna*
Of the Brush-tail Porcupine, A.tJierura?' there are at any rate
two species, the West African *A. africana and the Malayan ^d.
fascicidata. It is interesting that the gap in the present distribu-
tion is partially filled by the discovery of fossil teeth near Madras.
The genus does not differ widely in external appearance from
Ilystrive; it has, however, a rather longer tail; there are fewer
large spines, and there is a tuft of them at the end of the tail,
whence is derived the name of the genus. The frontal bones
project a little distance between the nasals, a feature which does
not seem to appear in the true Porcupines, There are fourteen
dorsal vertebrae and five lumbars. The twenty-four caudal verte-
brae of this Porcupine shows how much longer is its tail than
that of JETystrix ; for in the latter twelve is about the number.
A third genus of Old-World Porcupine is the singular Trichys?'
Of this there is but one species, T. lipura. It is a curious fact
that out of three examples, all from Borneo, two were quite
without a tail. But this appears to be merely a mutilation,
though it is singular that the natives state it to be without a
tail. One cannot help thinking of the way in which lizards
sometimes shed their tails when pecked at. The tail of this
genus is more than half the length of the body and head. TricJiys
has sixteen dorsal and six lumbar vertebrae. There is a tuft of
quills at the end of the tail, which are thin and compressed,
1  JSTat, Science, vi. 1895, p. 94.
2  See Parsons. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1894, p. 675.
s Giinther, P-roc. Zool. Soc. 1876, p. 739, and 1889, p. 75 ; and Cederblom,
JaJirb. &yst. Abth. xi. 1897-98, p. 497.